Major newswires report that EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding has drafted plans to regulate the price of sending cross-border text messages by mobile phones in the bloc with a retail cap of €0.11 (US$0.16). This is at the lower limit of her proposal initially unveiled in July. At the time the European Commission claimed that the 2.5 billion text messages sent every year by roaming customers in the EU cost over ten times more than domestic text messages, with an average price of €0.29 per roamed text. According to an AFP report last night, Reding aims to get backing for the proposal from fellow commissioners in late September or early October before it is submitted to member states and the European Parliament for approval.
In addition, Reding is attempting to regulate the wholesale price of data roaming – such as surfing the Web using a mobile phone or laptop whilst abroad. Her package also includes plans to require billing by the second for cross-border EU calls longer than half a minute (rather than by the minute) and she hopes to prolong the cap on the price of roamed voice calls, which is due to expire in 2010, to 2013. Bloomberg notes that many mobile operators, and the GSM Association, have fought price caps, arguing data roaming fees have already been reduced voluntarily by up to 38 percent in the past nine months. “The Commission has a tendency to set prices and micro-manage the market,” GSMA spokesman David Pringle told Bloomberg. “The Commission wants to delve into the details of the market in a way that investors weren’t expecting them to.”